Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Friday, May 23, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Pirates "squeeze" some more
life into NCAA hopes
The Pirates are hanging on in the Conference USA baseball tournament in
If you’ve watched this team play, you’ll recognize the script. This team
has been better offensively late in games all year.
Just when it looked like East Carolina's season might end, the Pirates
rallied for six runs in the 8th inning Thursday morning against Charlotte to
salvage the game 8-5 and staye alive in the event.
"Anybody who has followed us throughout the season knows that the later
innings are when we swing the bats best," said an obviously relieved Pirate
head coach Randy Mazey.
The 8th-seeded 49ers finished seven games under .500 for the year. East
Carolina, the No. 5 seed, had much more to play for in the game but its
success didn’t come until time was running out.
The Pirates got the go-ahead run playing “small-ball”. John Poppert
crossed the plate for the tally that gave the Pirates the lead on a suicide
squeeze bunt by Ben Sanderson.
You’ll recall that Sanderson was awarded the number 23 jersey this
season, to honor former Pirate coach Keith LeClair. Sanderson best
exemplified what the coach stood for, and some of those assets obviously
played a roll with what turned out to be the game-winning bunt.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 33-24-1. Every win is key when it
comes to an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Several media outlets have the
Pirates in as a lower seed, but I don’t share that same enthusiasm.
The Pirates, though, still have a shot because of the way the C-USA
Tournament is formatted. This is actually a pair of four-team double
elimination tournaments, with a single championship game.
It is an uphill battle, but the Pirates just have to string some wins
together and get to the title game. Then, the deed to a postseason plot can
be secured in one game.
It’s obvious, though, that this team fed off of the home field advantage
when it hosted last season's league tournament in Kinston. This year, the
squad has played back-to-back games 9 a.m. games.
“Nobody is at their best at nine o’clock in the morning,” Coach Mazey
said before the tournament.
I agree, and although I’m not in New Orleans, it just doesn’t seem like
the excitement is there, with the small morning crowds. On a positive note,
Thursday's comeback against Charlotte could go a long way towards fueling
some momentum for the Pirates down in the Big Easy.
It’s survive and advance, lose and perhaps call it a season. Every win
from here on is crucial as ECU scrapes and claws for that at-large bid.
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02/23/2007 01:26:35 AM